Google's smartphone payment system Android Pay can now be used in the UK.
The Android Pay app can be used on any Android device running KitKat 4.4 or higher that has an NFC chip. Users can add credit and debit cards from participating banks and use these to make payments with their smartphone.
UK banks, including Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC,Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA and Nationwide are currently listed as supporting the service, as are retailers including Aldi, Boots, Caffe Nero, Costa, KFC, Greggs, McDonalds, Starbucks, Waitrose and Transport for London.
-- Android (@Android) May 18, 2016
Sandwich chain Pret A Manger said its customers in the UK can now make purchases using Android Pay, up to the value of £250 across its 350 stores. It said 65 percent of all card transactions at Pret are made using contactless technology.
Card numbers aren't shared with retailers: instead, a virtual account number is used which Google said will keep card details safe. The app can also be used to store gift cards, loyalty cards, and offers.
Android Pay isn't supported on rooted devices because Google said it can't verify that the Android security model is intact.
Google is playing catchup in launching the service: rival Apple has had its Apple Pay service up and running for almost a year already. It's not clear how much success smartphone payment services are having, but the UK is already an enthusiastic user of contactless payment cards.